The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) Project is developing the AIMhi-Y app which is a smart phone app co-designed with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, aged 10-18 years, which aims to improve mental health and wellbeing. Phase two of the project, beginning in August 2020, will test the newly developed app in an early intervention mental health service, Headspace Darwin. A follow up Phase aims to test the effectiveness of the app in a Randomised Controlled Trial.

  • Co-design and develop the AIMhi-Y App with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people, aged 10-18 years, from the Northern Territory
  • Test the feasibility of the newly developed AIMhi-Y app with young people referred to an early intervention mental health service, Darwin

Using a participatory design approach, a series of four to ten co-design workshops were held across four sites with ten groups of young people. Workshops explored concepts and language used, along with acceptability and understanding of electronic mental health tools (e-mental health) and identified important characteristics of relevant tools. An additional peer supported online survey explored technology use, help seeking, and acceptability of particular e-mental health design elements with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

More than one hundred Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, aged 10-18 years, from four sites in the Northern Territory (NT) were involved in the workshops. Although they had experienced psychological distress, participants also described barriers to help seeking. Apps were perceived as a potential solution to overcoming barriers by increasing mental health literacy, providing anonymity if desired, and linking young people with further help. Preferred app characteristics included a strengths-based approach, including mental health information, relatable content and a fun, appealing, easy to use interface which encouraged app progression. Findings informed the new AIMhi-Y App, which is a strengths-based early intervention wellbeing app for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.

Implications for policy and practice:

The Australian Government has identified e-mental health tools as a potential strategy to increase access to mental health information and care. Apps and programs that are designed with end users have the best chance of success. The AIMhi-Y app aims to provide accessible early intervention care to young people in a fun and appealing way.

Research findings, so far, highlight the need, feasibility and potential of these types of tools, from the perspective of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth. A self-directed, bright, interactive, fun and engaging app has been developed which will be tested over the coming year.

Project timeline:
  • Start date: Jan 2018- Dec 2019, co-design phase
  • End date: August 2020- July 2021, feasibility testing
Contact info: 


  • Channel 7 Children Research Fund – Phase One
  • Suicide Prevention Australia – Phase Two
  • Northern Territory Primary Health Network – App development
  • NT Department of Education
  • Tiwi College
  • Tiwi Land Council
  • Stars Foundation
  • Clontarf Foundation
  • Council for Aboriginal Alcohol Programs (CAAPS)
Chief Investigators:
Project Manager:
  • Povey, J., Sweet, M., Nagel, T., Mills, P. P. J. R., Stassi, C. P., Puruntatameri, A. M. A., . . . Dingwall, K. (2020). Drafting the Aboriginal and Islander Mental Health Initiative for Youth (AIMhi-Y) App: Results of a formative mixed methods study. Internet Interventions, 21, 100318. doi:
  • Povey, J., Mills, P., Dingwall, K., Lowell, A., Singer, J., Rotumah, D., . . . Nagel, T. (2016). Acceptability of Mental Health Apps for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians: A Qualitative Study. J Med Internet Res, 18(3), e65. doi: 10.2196/jmir.5314